I’m scared to leave my bike..

nervousI get a lot of reader questions on London Cyclist and many of them I answer without ever showing on the blog but there is one common theme emerging: Fear to leave a bike somewhere. Take a look at the latest one..

I am about to change jobs, and I am losing the garage cycle parking that I very much loved. My new job is right near LSE, and there are a couple of bike racks in the university area, but they are almost always full and I’m nervous about leaving my bike on the street everyday, especially in a student area. I was wondering if you know of anyway to rent storage space in a garage or to find more secure cycle parking?
If not, do you have any advice about trying to switch to a folding bike?

First of all:

How much is your bike worth?

I would say if it exceeds £400 you should get bicycle insurance. If it is a cheaper bike then I would be less worried.

If it’s worth 1000’s of pounds then you may want to consider something cheaper if it will be left for a long time in a high risk area.


Do you have a good bike lock? Do you know how to lock your bike correctly? Are your accessories secured to your bike? Is your bike tagged?

Secure bicycle parking in London

Secure bicycle parking is in limited supply in London. The one I’m aware of is by London Bridge at On Your Bike. Your options are..

  • Ask around local businesses and see if one will be kind enough to let you leave your bike in their garage
  • Ask around local bike shops who may let you leave your bike on a one-off basis – It would be hard to convince them to keep your bike there regularly
  • Talk to your employer and see if there is a possibility of introducing secure bike parking – remind them they can get government and LCC funding to help with this.

Folding bikes to the rescue?

This is another option but a costly one. I would start off by looking for a second hand bike (even if it is not folding). You can also see this article about choosing a folding bike.

More bike safety articles:

Image via Fix Pena

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21 Responses to I’m scared to leave my bike..

  1. Kat 16/09/2010 at 8:10 am #

    Don’t forget also to “gimp your ride” – I’m not sure how well this works as an anti-theft device (I’ve had conflicting advice about it) but surely it can’t hurt. Give it a crappy spray paint job, wrap inner tubes or tape around the frame, stickers on it etc – anything to make it look rubbish and less desirable than the nice shiny bike next to it.

    Has anyone else tried this?

  2. Ciarán 16/09/2010 at 8:55 am #

    My bikes get “gimped” by using them all the time. Dirty, grime and scuff marks are more than enough to make any other bike look nice in comparison.

    Get two good locks, know how to lock it properly and you’ll be fine. After parking my bike at uni I’ve noticed a lot of bikes that are nicer than mine, with rubbish locks that would be easier to steal.

    • alex 17/09/2010 at 12:12 pm #

      but that makes for poor maintenance – I care for my bike more than that – and a professional bike thief will see through tape and such, which looks silly as well.

      My advice – good locks and locking techniques – sold secure gold rated locks – and don’t get a bike that costs a lot unless you get insurance for it.

  3. Rob 16/09/2010 at 9:24 am #

    Yeah, the stealth bike isn’t a bad idea. Always lock it up next to something that looks more expensive and/or easier to steal

  4. chris 16/09/2010 at 9:56 am #

    Fundamentally, if you leave your bike unattended it’s going to be at risk. All the mitigation in the world doesn’t take away from that. Presumably one of the fears here is that they don’t really know their new area well enough yet to accurately gauge the risks.

    Ask amongst the new colleagues for advice – not only will get recommendations as to what others already do, but you’ll make friends with the other cyclists!

    But I would question the advice on insurance, especially if your bike is worth more than 400 quid, policies quickly become prohibitive especially if you have more than one bike out of the range of home insurance policies … for years now I’ve self-insured: bought decent locks and have definitely saved enough to replace anything of mine that might now get stolen. (Fortunately I’ve had nothing stolen in over ten years.)

  5. Alex 16/09/2010 at 10:12 am #

    The City of London operates 5 council-owned car parks, all of which have free bicycle parking:


    The one that I use looks pretty secure, as the cycle stands are just opposite the car park attendants’ booth.

    Most other councils in London have some council-owned car parks, but I can’t see anything about bike parking on their websites. It’s worth going there and taking a look to see if they accept bikes either for free or for a fee:



  6. To-jo 16/09/2010 at 1:18 pm #

    If you’ve got multiple bikes and want to insure them then try Marks and Spencer content insurance. I got it last year and it covers all bikes up to 4K. You have to tick the “away from home” option which pumps up the premium. I live in Blackheath and it came to 300 quid but I got back 50 quid on quidco. Still pricey but considering insuring my race bike with cycle guard would be over 200 quid it soon starts to make sense. Never had to make a claim but its seemed a lot less stringent than the specialist bike insurance companies e.g. don’t have to lock the bike when stored in a garage.

    An alternative is some Kryptonite locks come with theft protection up to 1,100 quid. A nice perk if you have to buy a lock then you get a decent lock and free insurance but I imagine it will be quite stringent (anyone with experience of claiming ?) so read the small print. If the thief takes the broken lock I imagine it would be extremely difficult to get kryptonite to pay up.

    • Tim 17/09/2010 at 12:13 pm #

      If you are a member of LCC they do a reasonable reduced Insurance and free third party liability.

  7. John 16/09/2010 at 6:40 pm #

    Its always a bit of a worry when you move jobs, my bike has lived in a secure shed at one job to being in the building I work in to having to be locked outside on a rack all day.
    I still have not lost a bike, but I do double lock with a Kryptonite evolution and an Abbus bracelet lock on the front to the stand, the wheels and seat are Pitlocked too. I have Insurance with ETA as my GT with extras is worth around £1000.
    Most days my bike is the last left in the stand and yes you know when someone has tried to walk off with it, but unless you meet up with someone fully equipped to nick bikes then they are reasonably safe.
    Bike theft is high, but look at the cheap locks and the way they are locked and you can understand why it is so high.

  8. Angi 16/09/2010 at 7:39 pm #

    Oh I was going to mention the secure bike parking at London Bridge. I used it yesterday. So awesome…for just £1.50 you can lock your bike up in a nice safe and dry place for up to 24 hours.

    I was super impressed and had peace of mind knowing that I’d be going back to a bike at the end of a nice day.

    However…bicycle parking provisions at Guy’s Hospital…complete rubbish. The stalls were all full…I had to triple up…push someone else’s bike to the side and lock mine up too. Took me 25 minutes to find a relatively safe space…meaning I was late for my appointment despite arriving early enough!
    Their inadequate provisions for safe bicycle parking leave people forced to lock up somewhere unsafe…as all the railings have ‘do not lock your bike’ signs up!

  9. 416expat 17/09/2010 at 9:02 am #

    Get a beater bike – the cheapest one you can find with fenders. Freedom is owning a crappy bike.

  10. Tim 17/09/2010 at 12:12 pm #

    Buy mudguards and a pannier rack. Apparently puts of trendy thieves. Works for me. So far!

  11. Charles 17/09/2010 at 1:42 pm #

    Zurich contenss insurance paid out when had bike stolen 4 years ago.

    Use the contents away from home element which cost £20 odd extra although they may have a maximum limit.

    For those locking up outside try not to leave your bike in the same place everyday.

    Any bike locked outside is pretty vulnerable whetther you have D lock, 2 locks whatever and even if the theiving gits fail to stel your bike they often vandalise the bike after.

  12. Tony Parrack 17/09/2010 at 2:17 pm #

    I take the front wheel into the office (difficult to cycle away without one). Always leave the bike in front of a cafe or somewhere busy. Get a strong lock as a deterrent – altho when I had lost both keys(!) to a £50 lock, a locksmith cut thro the lock in less than 3 seconds so don’t rely on it; this was in front of a busy pub and nobody outside batted an eyelid.

  13. OJW 18/09/2010 at 11:24 am #

    Regarding insurance, the benefits are not always so clear.

    Firstly, if you have more than one bike nicked every 3 years then you can’t insure it anyway, since the first question is “any bikes lost recently?” And although you’ve listed some good exceptions, 95% of “normal” insurance companies don’t believe a bike can cost more than £200.

    Putting it on your home insurance is also dodgy, since the excess + next year’s increased premiums could cost more than the bike. Do you really want to tell your next home-insurer that you *did* claim on the last policy?

    When the premiums are more than 10-20% of the cost of your bike, that’s all money which could be saved to buy a replacement bike when the first one gets taken.

    And unlike the insurance, that savings account will buy the replacement bike even if you can’t prove that you met all 40 criteria of the insurance, e.g. if you forgot to lock it, or left it out overnight, or only the saddle was taken, or if you simply get into a dispute with insurance about exactly what happened and whether they can be bothered to pay.

    Then consider the buying of a replacement. With the savings account you go out and buy a replacement bike that day or the next day, and can choose whatever new style of bike you want. With new-for-old insurance you have to wait for them to agree to buy the replacement bike, and get the same model again.

    So: useful sometimes. But do the math before deciding on insurance – it often comes out as better to insure yourself.

    • Amoeba 21/12/2010 at 12:57 pm #

      All good points.

      I must admit that I consider bike insurance exorbitant. A couple of years ago, I looked at bike insurance in the Netherlands and IIRC, insurance premiums from Halfords seemed much cheaper than here. And the Netherlands isn’t known for the absence of cycle theft.

      Weren’t 900,000 bike stolen last year?

  14. OJW 18/09/2010 at 11:37 am #

    There was a music shop in the Fashion Street/Brick Lane area offering cycle parking inside their shop. Look for a store with a row of D-locks behind the counter. No idea of prices (but free for brief visits I think)

  15. girlandsteed 18/09/2010 at 11:58 am #

    I think you’ve just got to get a zen about it, once you’ve covered the basics. I wrote a post about it here:


  16. Matt Keeling 20/09/2010 at 10:59 pm #

    Hi Andreas,

    My friend recently left his bike in the street last month and lost his saddle. We think a nasty man stole it. Can you please tell Boris.


    Mr M Keeling


  17. Dave 08/10/2010 at 3:47 pm #

    Worth noting that if you only have to park the bike outside regularly at one location, you can leave your locks in place, rather than carrying them around. A sufficiently heavy lock will offer some resistance to thieves, although you wouldn’t want to carry it around.

  18. Gala Frickson 22/12/2010 at 4:18 am #

    Regarding security systems, specifically for businesses, I have to concur with you entirely. You can find so several options in the marketplace, it really is important for any specialist to know what is most effectivefor their situation and as well as particular office building. The remarks you are presenting continue to be a terrific help to businesses and as well as security experts as well. Many thanks once more!

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